Analysis Of Mel Gibson's Hamlet

1929 Words 8 Pages
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be...”(1.3.75) “To be or not to be; that is the question”(3.1.57) and of course the so often misquoted “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio...”(5.1.160-161). As one of William Shakespeare’s most renowned plays, even those having never seen Hamlet are able to quote it at a moments notice. It has inspired a great deal of directors to piece together their own versions of Hamlet to share with the public; the question remains which can be considered the best, and why? To go through every version would take centuries, and so this essay will be limited to two: Hamlet, made in 1990 with Mel Gibson and Hamlet, made in 1996 with Kenneth Branagh, in which I believe the second comes out on top. To convince others of …show more content…
The costume design makes it clear from the beginning that Gibson’s Hamlet is set in an earlier time period than Branagh’s, with everyone dressed in darker, more disheveled clothing, including the royalty. This is not to say that costume design was sloppy in any way, rather the opposite; it worked to make it seem as if the gap between the lower classes and the royal family was closer together, that the new king and queen did not hold themselves a great deal higher than their subjects. It managed to show that everyone was still mourning the loss of their king, as well as give an idea of the time period. However the costumes in Gibson’s Hamlet did not come to the same level as Branagh’s, as can be seen mainly during the wedding of Gertrude and Claudius. In Gibson’s version everyone attending the wedding, newlyweds included, were dressed in dark greens, blues and reds. This allows Hamlet to easily blend in, wearing all black, as he continues to mourn the loss of his father. The costumes allow everyone to look similar to one another, not only in colour but in style - long and unshapely. Although this may work for the peasants, it does not work for the royalty. Instead of giving off an air of power as Branagh’s costumes, they simply work to make the actors look worn out and less …show more content…
The three main characters we see are Gertrude, Claudius and Hamlet, all of which are portrayed very differently in each movie. Gertrude in Gibson’s adaptation is very bold, and outgoing. Although she is initially upset at her husband’s grave she is later very passionate when interacting with her new husband, Claudius. She does not shy away from intimacy with him, nor does she seem ashamed at how fast everything has happened. She interacts with Claudius very naturally, and often acts giddy when around him. This leads the viewer to believe that she may have been having an affair with Claudius before Hamlet sr.’s death. When interacting with her son, Hamlet, she is slightly less excitable, and it often appears that she is trying to gain his forgiveness, though she acts as if nothing is wrong between them. The change of Gertrude’s character in Branagh’s Hamlet is stunning; instead of being overly passionate with Claudius she seems to shy away from him ever so slightly in front of everyone. They maintain a careful distance and only touch in the most casual ways. She plays the part of a woman mourning her husband and remarrying for the good of the kingdom. I find that this works better than the very close relationship in the previous version. Assuming Gertrude and Claudius were having an affair, it is likely that they would want to keep it a secret, so

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